We've all heard of "mad scientists". They are intelligent, charismatic, perhaps scary- but like a moth to the flame we read and watch as these archetypal figures spiral into their experiments, their shenanigans. The concept of a man on the fringe of brilliance and madness is the perfect launching point to explore questions of science and control, or to make complete and unrestrained fun at our own ideas of the genre. With a uniquely funny yet depraved professor as the star, David Tallerman's Endangered Weapon B serves up a cocktail of an imaginative Steampunk setting and clever storline. Tallerman's Professor isn't just insane, he embraces it it with an eager grin.
FCBD: For those who might be new to your comic book, give a quick rundown. What can we expect to see in terms of story and art?
David: Unadulterated lunacy, that's the short answer. Endangered Weapon B is where all my ideas that would seem too ridiculous, too over the top for any other project get to come out. It's also the place where I get to regurgitate all the pop culture I've accumulated over the years and then patch it together in fun - or just plain nonsensical - new ways.
FCBD: What has been your favourite part of the book or character to tackle?
David: My favourite character has to be our protagonist, the man known only as the Professor. My mental pitch for him was sort of Allan Quartermain's evil twin. Or, maybe evil is too strong a word, but he certainly thinks nothing of indulging in mad science, forcing grizzly bears to wear mechanised armour and fight for him, keeping a ninja for a butler and kidnapping a Polynesian computer genius to be his child bride. I guess what makes him so fun to write is the childlike glee that he does all this morally dubious stuff with. I have a real weakness for despicable protagonists that you can't help but root for.
FCBD: Tell FCBD fans why they should pick your book first on Free Comic Book Day!
David: I guess that if they're filed alphabetically and there's nothing beginning with A, B, C or D then...
Oh, right. Well, I don't think there's another book out there quite like it, in FCBD or elsewhere. It's exciting, it's funny, it's very odd and thanks to Bob, it looks gorgeous and absolutely unique.
FCBD: What other titles would you associated with your FCBD book? “If a comic reader likes _______ , they should pick up my title"?
David: I'm going to say Indiana Jones meets The Tick. Or maybe Hellboy meets Sam and Max. Or perhaps War Horse meets The Vampire Diaries. No, wait, not that last one.
FCBD: What’s your favourite part about working in comics?
David: It has to be getting new pages back from artist Bob Molesworth. It's always such a thrill to find out that not only has he managed to get down everything I threw at him, however absurd or unlikely, he's managed to make sense of it within the context of the story. Bob's just a natural storyteller, and he has a wonderful grasp of visual humour. There are minor gags in the script that had me in stitches once I saw what he'd done with them on the page.
FCBD: Many newcomers will pick up comics for the first time on FCBD—what was the first comic you remember reading?
David: At the risk of sounding old, the first comic I read was probably something like Commando or Eagle. But the first series I read devotedly from the beginning was Action Force, the Marvel UK take on G I Joe. If anyone was wondering why there's a ninja butler in Endangered Weapon, they probably have their answer right there.
FCBD: Where will you be for this year’s FCBD? Do you have any annual FCBD traditions?
David: If I can arrange it, I hope to be in the London Forbidden Planet signing copies of Endangered Weapon B and maybe my novels Giant Thief and Crown Thief too. As for traditions, not so much. I work weekends a lot, so it's actually a treat just to be able to make it this year.
FCBD: Looking to the future of the book, is there anything you can tease about what's upcoming?
David: In July we have the first Endangered Weapon B trade paperback, which as well as standing perfectly well on its own also sets up plenty of stuff that will be important going forward. Like a hunt for the secret of zombification and Nazi space dolphins.
On top of the tale that readers will get a taste of in the FCBD issue, there's a second full length story, featuring a certain famous literary doctor with a fondness for making people out of bits of other dead people, along with more monsters than you could possibly shake a stick at.
FCBD: Tell us why everyone should read comic books?
David: They're a unique medium; they offer possibilities that no other form of storytelling can. In the right hands they have most of the virtues of novels and film, without many of their drawbacks. They have no budget restrictions, there are no limits to the scale of story you can tell. They're home to many of the finest writers and artists working today. At least one of them has a mechanised grizzly bear fighting psychic ninja squid. Need I go on?